In 1991 when Kyrgyzstan became an independent country, most of the country's talented artists fled to larger and more creative cities. However, specially trained artist Gulnara Kydyrmyshova stayed behind and established a small retail store called Kork, with the vision to revive Kyrgyz craftsmanship and help relieve her nation of poverty through the trade of handmade felted works. For about twelve years she supported local craftsmanship by selling felted handicrafts in her store. She also conducted free sewing classes to unemployed women in her community.
In 2011 Kydyrmyshova connected with Peace Corps Volunteer Andrew Kuschner, and together Kuschner and Kydyrmyshova worked together to bring Kyrgyz handicrafts to the American market. Through their work together they have been able to bring stable work to over twenty artisans and create an interest in the revival of traditional craftsmanship amongst the local population.
Read more about about this work (and see some stunning photos of Kyrgyzstan) on our blog.